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Ezekiel 16:27

27. Behold, therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary food, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.

27. Et ecce, extendi manum meam super te, et diminui demensum tuum, et tradidi te desiderio 105105     Or, “lust.” — Calvin. earum quae te oderant filiarum Philistim, quae pudefactae sunt a viis tuis sceleris. 106106     That is, “which were wicked.” — Calvin.


Here God reproves the hardness of the Jews because admonition did not render them wise. The common proverb aptly says, “fools grow wise only by the rod;” and when their obstinacy is such that the rod does no good, their faults are indeed desperate. Hence God complains, when he had chastised the Jews, that even this did not profit them, for they were so perverse that they did not apply their minds to reflect upon their sins. For God’s blows ought to rouse us up, so that our faults previously hidden ought to be brought to light and knowledge; but when we champ the bit, and are not affected by the blows, then our abandoned disposition is made manifest. Now the Prophet condemns this obstinacy in the Jews: I have extended, says he, my hand over thee. He now enumerates two kinds of chastisement, first, when God deprived the Jews of the abundance of the possessions by which they were enriched; and then because he had subjected them to the lust of their enemies. Those who translate justification as Jerome does, depart from the sense of the Prophet: חק, chek, signifies, indeed, a statute and edict, and he explains it of the law. But how will this agree with the Prophet’s retaining the simile already used? for he compares God to a husband. God now pronounces that he had taken away their appointed portion, when he saw himself a laughingstock through his impure wife; that is, what he had intended for both food and clothing: for husbands spend a fixed sum on their wives in food, clothing, and ornament. And God previously recounted, among other things, that what he had conferred upon the Jews they had spent in superstitions. Hence, for this reason, he now says, I have taken away their allotted portion, that is, what I had assigned to them. This was one part of the chastisement: for he compares the fruitfulness of the land and other advantages to the portion which the husband assigns to the wife.

Now the other chastisement follows — their being harassed by their enemies; for not only did the Jews find themselves encompassed by the Philistines, but they were delivered up and bound to slavery, as Moses says, (Deuteronomy 32:30,) How, then, could one vanquish ten, and ten chase a thousand, unless we had been shut up in his hand? He shows, therefore, that our enemies are never our superiors unless God enslaves us to them. But those who do not calmly subject themselves to God’s command, but are refractory, are delivered into the enemy’s hand, that their contumacy may be subdued by severe tyranny. Now we understand what the Prophet means by this verse: he enlarges upon the people’s wickedness in not turning to God, though they felt by clear experience that they were under a curse. They ought to examine their lives, to groan before God, to acknowledge their fault, and to beg for pardon: since no feeling was awakened, the Prophet gathers that their obstinacy was desperate. This passage is worthy of our notice, that we may be attentive to God’s chastisements. Whenever God even raises his finger and threatens us, let us know that he is anxious for our safety: hence in our turn let us rouse ourselves and implore his pity, and especially let us repent of our sins by which we see his anger to have been enflamed. (Jeremiah 2:30.) But if we remain slothful, we see that no excuse for us remains, since God elsewhere complains that he is trifled with, when he has chastised his children in vain. Here, נפש, nepish, the soul is used for lust or desire, as I have explained it. It follows —

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